One of the best short hikes on the San Mateo County Coastside connects the postcard perfect Bean Hollow State Beach to the south and the uniquely beautiful Pebble Beach to the north. Park at the small lot at Bean Hollow and before beginning your walk and make sure to spend a little time enjoying this wonderful half-moon shaped beach named after the Arroyo de Los Frijoles. On sunny days there are few beaches more scenic.

Begin the one-mile each-way trail at the north end of the small parking area. The trail will meander along the blufftops staying parallel to the nearby Highway 1. Along the way, visitors can enjoy an abundance of coastal wildflowers including the California poppy, trilliums and wild iris which bloom spring thru late summer. But, of course, as with many San Mateo County Coastside parks, care should be taken to avoid the abundant poison oak. Even if the glossy leaves aren’t apparent, the dormant branches can still make some people itch.

Bill Murray

The popular trail will cross several well-built bridges and those with nimble feet will want to explore the offshoot trails that will lead to tide pools and one of the highlights of the walk — tafoni. These tafoni formations — or ‘Swiss cheese rock’ — are beautiful honeycomb shaped sandstone rock outcroppings where different rates of erosion and salt weathering have created interesting and delicate lace-like patterns in the rock.

At low tide, the tidepools are a fantastic place to explore with abundant anemones, sea snails, chitons, crabs, sea stars and the occasional octopus. If you are hiking with kids, this is sure to be a favorite part of the walk. Lucky visitors with a keen eye may also get the chance to see gray or humpback whales migrating. 

Not only is this a beautiful hike, but it can be educational too! Reading the interpretative signage along the way you can learn a bit of the region’s history, marine mammals and geography. The interpretive signs found here are representative of the interpretive signs Coastside State Parks Association (CSPA) installs at the fifteen parks and beaches along the San Mateo County coast that we support. If you are a CSPA donor, you can be proud that you were a part of these park enhancements!

Eventually the trail will lead to the parking area at Pebble Beach — appropriately named for the smooth stones that have collected at the bluffs. They are beautiful to look at and touch, but State Parks prohibits any collecting. After following the staircase down to the beach, the trail ends, and it’s time to enjoy the snacks you brought in your backpack and then turn around for the return hike.

Be sure to take plenty of photos and tag #CSPA on all your Instagram posts!

Article written by Bill Murray, CSPA Board President